Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Standing at the Foot of a Cross

Below is a little talk that I was asked to give at the Baton Rouge 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil. The 40 Day campaign prays to end abortion and heal the wounds it causes in individuals, families and our culture. It begins today (September 26) and continues until November 4 - please consider joining in it with your prayers but also with your presence, if possible, at the abortion clinic near you. For the Baton Rouge and Louisiana area, more information is on the official website HERE.

Standing at the Foot of the Cross: Prayer at the Abortion Facility

Throughout my formation for priestly ministry one thing we frequently heard was that with all of our training and preparation, the often most influential part of our ministry would not be the part that we would speak with our lips but rather the part that we would speak by our lives. While the right word or prayer can sometimes be a powerful thing in ministering to others, quite often it is simply our silent presence that impresses itself most deeply upon a person’s heart and memory.

When 2000 years ago Our Lord climbed upon that Sacred Cross on Calvary to win for us salvation, He did not do so alone. With Him, the scriptures tell us, were His mother Mary, the Apostle John and several others who remained at His side until the end. In the silence of their hearts they bore the pain of seeing the Son of God pierced and dying; and yet they remained with Him, trusting all the while that the Father’s goodness would prevail. And indeed it did so in a most glorious way.

Now in our own day Our Lord is inviting us to follow in His footsteps and those of Mary, John and the others on the way to a new Calvary and a new Cross. All throughout the year, but especially in this 40 day period of intense prayer, we are called to be the Mary and John to a whole host of women who are in the midst of their own personal Calvary, quietly accompanying them with our prayers and presence in the midst of their sufferings, trusting all the while that God’s goodness can triumph still.

The thought of going to pray at an abortion facility can be an intimidating one. When I first began to pray at abortion facilities several years back, I often worried about what to say, what to do, and all sorts of other things. I quickly began to realize, though, that the most important thing was simply to trust in God and show up, knowing that He had the details covered. None of us on this side of Heaven can know how God’s plan is going to unfold, so it is not for us to worry about it. Rather, we are called to simply come before the Lord, place ourselves at His disposal, and offer prayers to Him on behalf of those in need. And when that happens, then we begin to hear the beautiful stories like that shared by Mrs. Elaine; stories of healing, stories of transformation, stories of minds and hearts being changed.

My brothers and sisters, we need to be out there praying. The world around us needs us out there. The parents and children need us. The abortionists and their employees need us. And God needs us. For as St. Paul reminds us in his Letter to the Romans: “How are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!’” And we indeed have good news to preach – good news that there is a better way, there is help, there is healing and there is a God whose love conquers even the most difficult of trials. Armed with this good news, let us place ourselves in God’s hands as we cry out with the words of the prophet Isaiah: Here I am, Lord. Send me.